Monday, June 06, 2011

48 Hour Book Challenge

This year, I was able to participate a bit in Mother Reader's Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. Although I can never fully participate by the rules of the challenge, I love the weekend because it gives me an excuse to commit a larger amount of time to reading than usual. This year, I spread my time over 3 days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I read in between family events, graduation parties, and other things.  But over the three days I read some great books. I love this binge reading--really reading lots in a few days. Although my To-Be-Read pile is still huge, it always feels less overwhelming when I spend lots of time reading.  I am excited about the books that I read.  I would recommend every single one of them. It was a great reading weekend!  These are the books I read:

BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu is due out in September. This is a favorite of mine for 2011 so far. It is a modern day fairy tale. A version of The Snow Queen. Ursu does an amazing job of weaving in issues that today's children may be dealing with into this fantasy story.  The underlying themes are friendship and loss among other things.  Divorce, boy-girl friendships, international adoption, and other things are explored in this book. The author does a great job at pulling in other stories we know such as the Chronicles of Narnia and the Little Match Girl.  This is a book I may want to reread and definitely a great addition to any intermediate or middle school classroom. I loved it.  It is so good that I would preorder it now so that you don't forget about it in September.

WE ARE AMERICA is a poetry book by Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers that I have been meaning to read.  The book is a powerful one, reminding us about what it means to be American. The book is both a celebration of our country and a realistic look at some issues we deal with as a nation. This is a gorgeous book that older students could read with depth.

I am a huge fan of Michael J. Fox.  As a matter of fact, I found myself purchasing the new issue of Good Housekeeping because Michael J. Fox was on the cover. Honestly, I felt like I was 13 and buying an issue of Teen Beat when I saw his photo on the cover.  I picked up A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON MY WAY TO THE FUTURE by Michael J. Fox and read it as part of my 48 Hour Read. This is a great little essay--one of those books aimed at graduating students. But so much of what Michael J. Fox says in this book resonated for me.  A good, quick, life message.  (By the way, a little Franki Trivia for you--I have a credit in a Michael J. Fox movie. I was the tutor on the set for a child in LIGHT OF DAY for one day of filming in Ohio.  I didn't have to do much tutoring but I did get to ride in a van with Joan Jett and see Michael J. Fox in person from afar many times during the day:-)

I picked up OLIVIA'S BIRDS: SAVING THE GULF by Olivia Bouler a few weeks ago. I had heard the story about Olivia raising money to help birds during the oil spill and was intrigued by the book. This book is full of information and drawings about birds by Olivia. We learn about the fascination of birds and also learn about the dangers to birds, about the oil spill and about Olivia's work to help them.m This is a great piece by an 11 year-old working to make a positive difference in the world.

LOST AND FOUND by Shaun Tan was another that had been on my stack for a while. This is a collection of 3 short pieces around the theme of loss. Each story is different and each leaves the read with lots to think about. The illustrations are incredible and add to the text.  I can see using this with older elementary and middle school students to really dig into the meaning of these stories, both separately and together.

THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING by Catherynne Valente was the first book that I read. I actually started it a week or two ago but didn't have much time to read during the last weeks of school.  The book is a fairy tale and the main character is one that will stay with me for a long time.  But this is not an easy read. It seems more middle school than middle grade to me.  It is a great, unique fairy tale. I did not fall in love with it until the last 1/3 but by the time I was finished, I loved it. I think had I not spread it out over a busy time of year, I would have loved it immediately.  I definitely recommend this one to readers of more complex fantasy/fairy tales.

I loved QUEEN OF THE FALLS by Chris Van Allsburg and wasn't really expecting to. Honestly, when I ordered it, I had no idea what it was about.  I just ordered it because it was by Van Allsburg and I love most everything by him. The Polar Express was one of the first children's book I owned when I began student- teaching and I have loved his work ever since. But this book is different for this author/illustrator. It is a picture book biography about the first woman to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel.  I am addicted to finding great picture book biographies so finding this one was a real treat. Van Allsburg's illustrations make this a biography I think kids will love--the story is a great one and Van Allsburg's illustrations bring it to life. I am happy to add it to my biographies and to my Chris Van Allsburgh collection.

THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL by Kirby Larson was the last book that I read during the 48 Hour Read and it was a a great ending to a great reading weekend!  I love dolls so I especially liked the idea of this book.  It is a historical booked based on the 57 dolls sent to the United States from Japan in 1927 as "Ambassadors of Friendship". This is the story of one doll and the people she meets in her travels.  The book consists of 5 stories and we see the way that the doll was "brought to life" by each new girl she met.  We also see how each of the girls was changed because of the doll. Each story is powerful by itself.  The book reminded me a bit of The Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo in its premise. This is definitely a new favorite for me.  I have always loved dolls so I am anxious to see how this book does with others who are not so interested in dolls.  My gut says that it is a great story regardless of how you come to it.  Together these create a story of hope, change, loss, friendship and more. At the end of the book, author Kirby Larson gives us a little more background about the Japanese dolls.

So, thanks again to Mother Reader for a great kick-off to my Summer Reading. I am already looking forward to the 7th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge!

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